Drones are small autonomous vehicles that automatically perform tasks for the colony such as building, maintenance and moving resources. If none of these tasks are available, drones will automatically mine surface resources that are in the drone control range provided a storage is nearby to receive it. Drones are controlled by Drone Hubs, Rockets, and RC Commanders. Each drone controller works independently, servicing depots and resource demands within their own drone control area. The control area may be adjusted for each controller and defaults to maximum range. Smaller coverage areas may be useful for focusing drones on a specific task such as refilling a rocket or construction on the field.
Drone hubs come packaged with four drones and can deploy up 20; researching Drone Swarms increases the initial number to six and total control to 100. The SpaceY sponsor adds four extra starting drones to a total of eight (ten with Drone Swarms). RC Commanders start with four drones and can command eight; researching Rover Command AI increases the starting number to eight and total control to 20. Rockets can control up to 20 drones and will release control of drones when they launch. Released drones will automatically be assigned to any nearby controller that has available control capacity. If a cargo rocket lands with more than 20 drones, the excess will have control released upon landing.
Drones can be shipped directly to Mars or built in a Drone Assembler for 1 Electronics each. The Printed Electronics Breakthrough allows for drone construction out of 1 Metals. Drones shipped by rocket will immediately begin work in the command range of the rocket; drones built in the assembler must be deployed in order to function. Inactive drones are stored in a global storage as prefabs, and may be recalled from or deployed to any controller at any time. Drones can also be reassigned directly by selecting the drone, then clicking the reassign button, and finally the new controller (drone hub, RC rover, or rocket). The drone will stop any action it is currently performing and, if not already in range, move to the command range of its new controller.
Drones have a limited battery supply and must be recharged periodically in order to function. Drone Hubs are equipped with two recharge pads and RC Commanders have a single recharging dock on their rear. Rockets also have a charging bay inside. Additional charging demands can be met with Recharge Stations, which are cheap to produce and require no regular maintenance.
Drones have 3 available skins: White, red and blue.
In Space Race Japan uses Wasp Drones instead of regular ones. They hover above ground, which makes them both faster and capable of flying over buildings and most terrain. Wasp Drones cannot be hit by meteors or lightning while flying. They have only one skin available.
There are a number of technologies that can be researched that improve your colony's drones: